MEPS 525:229-243 (2015)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11179

Migratory movements of rhinoceros auklets in the northwestern Pacific: connecting seasonal productivities

Akinori Takahashi1,2,*, Motohiro Ito1, Yuuya Suzuki3, Yutaka Watanuki3, Jean-Baptiste Thiebot1, Takashi Yamamoto1,3, Takahiro Iida1,2, Phil Trathan4, Yasuaki Niizuma5, Tomohiro Kuwae6

1National Institute of Polar Research, Tachikawa, Tokyo 190-8518, Japan
2Department of Polar Science, The Graduate University for Advanced Studies (SOKENDAI), Tachikawa, Tokyo 190-8518, Japan
3Graduate School of Fisheries Sciences, Hokkaido University, 3-1-1 Minato-cho, Hakodate 041-8611, Japan
4British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK
5Faculty of Agriculture, Meijo University, 1-501, Shiogamaguchi, Tempaku-ku, Nagoya 468-8502, Japan
6Port and Airport Research Institute, 3-1-1, Nagase, Yokosuka 239-0826, Japan
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Spatial and temporal variability in marine biological productivity may drive heterogeneity in seasonal resources available for marine animals in temperate waters. Migratory seabirds are expected to adjust their annual cycle of breeding activities and migratory movements to exploit seasonally available resources efficiently. We studied the movement and trophic position of rhinoceros auklets Cerorhinca monocerata breeding at Teuri Island, Japan Sea, during the nonbreeding and early breeding periods over 2 yr. After breeding, the auklets moved northward from the colony to the Sea of Okhotsk, where phytoplankton blooms enhanced biological productivity in autumn. The birds then moved southward to the southwestern Japan Sea (~1470 km from the colony), where major epipelagic fish and squid concentrations have been reported in winter. Stable isotope analyses suggest that the auklets fed on higher-trophic level prey, including fish and/or squid during the autumn and winter nonbreeding periods. The auklets moved northward and returned to the colony in mid-March. During the early breeding period, the birds foraged close to the colony (~380 km) on lower-trophic level prey including fish and/or krill, which were available during the spring phytoplankton bloom. The timing of the return migration does not match with the northward migration of warm-water anchovy, a profitable prey during summer, but may be related to timing the chick-rearing period to correspond with anchovy arrival. We suggest that rhinoceros auklets follow spatial and seasonal changes in prey availability by a distinctive ‘3-step’ migration (first northward, second southward, third northward) in the temperate marine system of the northwestern Pacific.


KEY WORDS: Seabird foraging · Light-based geolocation · Productivity · Seasonal movements · Stable isotope analysis · Japan Sea


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Cite this article as: Takahashi A, Ito M, Suzuki Y, Watanuki Y and others (2015) Migratory movements of rhinoceros auklets in the northwestern Pacific: connecting seasonal productivities. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 525:229-243. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11179

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